Beyond the human toll of the current global health crisis, the coronavirus outbreak is having serious economic repercussions to the global economy and the supply chains on which it depends. Dun & Bradstreet reported, “at least 51,000 (163 Fortune 1000) companies around the world have one or more direct or Tier 1 suppliers in the impacted regions, and at least five million companies (938 Fortune 1000) around the world have one or more Tier 2 suppliers in the impacted region.” Factory closings, transportation restrictions and general concerns about a potential pandemic are causing shortages of critical supplies and employees, and are testing the bounds and obligations of various contracts entered into between vendors and customers.
As a result of this disruption, many businesses are assessing their contracts to understand the extent of their rights, remedies and obligations with respect to their business partners. Suppliers of goods and services unable to deliver on contractual obligations are looking to see what provisions, if any, may protect them from a default. And in turn, recipients encountering delays from suppliers unable to deliver goods and services in a timely manner (or at all) are also looking to their agreements to see what rights, obligations, and remedies they may have in these circumstances.